Saturday, March 15, 2008

Great Bedwyn To Hungerford

4.26 miles, 5 hours 4 mins, 9 locks, 2 swing bridges, 2.61 lm/hr

After a quiet night we set off about 11.38 towards Burnt Mill lock (65) and the next 8 locks down towards Hungerford. Just before the lock a British Waterways “pod” was moored.

I think that is what this is called and I assume that BW store tools and equipment in them ready for work on the canal.

Little Bedwyn lock (67) is a very pretty lock with a beech hedge and an attractive view of the church. As seen in a previous blog.

At Oakhill Down lock (68) we met a very chatty painter and decorator who was bemoaning the rain that was by then well set in. This lock is very close to the road and attractively fenced off. The painter who was from Crystal Palace (my neck of the woods when I was growing up) and had a good “sarf” London accent helped me with the very heavy bottom gate.

Below the lock is a good winding hole that we have made use of in the past and as we passed another boat cast off asking if they could lock share with us, not a problem we replied.

This meant that the next few locks were not such hard work. But we had to follow 2 Bruce Trusts boats who were out for a weekend training course, this slowed us down as we had to wait for the 2nd boat Diana at each lock. Seen here at Bedwyn Wharf.

After the 2 Froxfield locks (middle (69) and bottom (70)) the A4 joins the canal on the other side of the railway. The railway crosses the canal a bit later after lock 71, Picketfield lock.

A new marina to be called Hungerford Marina has been started on the off side. Accessed from the A4 and on the approach to the next lock, Cobblers lock.

It appears to have stalled in its construction though. We have been noticing this from the road over the last few months and at one time there was some heavy plant there.

Now there is nothing. There have been rumours that the owners have run out of money.

Cobblers lock has a footbridge just below that has a gate on it and is very low. We had to take our satellite dish and its pole down – fortunately John noticed in time!

Despite a quick lull in the rain we were all pretty wet when we came to Hungerford Marsh lock (73) in the middle of a conservation area known as Freeman’s Marsh. Conserved because of the flora and fauna. The lock needs some conservation too as over it is a wide swing bridge that is extremely difficult to move! Why the bridge is so big as it leads from nowhere to nowhere be a mystery! To go down, as we were the bridge has to be opened before the boat enters the lock. Once the lock is nearly empty it can be closed again.

However out problems with swing bridges were no means over! I was beginning to flag and really wanted to moor up by now. But the canal is very shallow by the towpath so despite 2 attempts we gave up and followed the other boat to Hungerford Church swing bridge (85).

When we got there they were having real trouble trying to open it. We cruised up slowly and I got off at our bows by the bridge to help. But 3 of us still couldn’t open it! Something at the free end was making it stick. By jiggling this end and with brute force we finally opened it and then we could see the problem. Part of the underside of the bridge was separated from the planks and as we moved off you could see the bridge had a real list. The only way to open and close it is to lift one side!

Thankfully we were able to moor on the visitor moorings just beyond and near to the next lock – Hungerford lock 74. The other boat went on down without us.

We were both very happy to take our wet wet gear off and get down into the warm and dry for a meal and the evening!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comment on the blog, not on Facebook. If you don't want your comment published add "please do not publish". We reserve the right not to publish comments and will not publish Anonymous Posts.